Out of Bounds

Doggone Fall Can’t Come Soon Enough

This puppy chaos has come as a shock

By Rob Breeding

A pattern of destruction befell my quiet abode a year ago when I brought home my pup, Jade. The toll hasn’t been too bad, though I’ve lost three of my favorite ball caps.

The most recent was the hardest. Destroyed was an orange hat that has been my favorite bird hunting headgear going on five years. It sported a Bozone beer label, which is my second favorite craft beer name in Montana.

Moose Drool will always be No. 1, in name at least.

The cap had faded to the point it no longer qualified as proper hunter orange, but since bird hunting generally does not require the 400 square inches big game hunters must wear, I had no plans for banishment.

I’m not above wearing distressed hunting gear. I prefer things that are a bit tattered. Unfortunately, when Jade decides a hat must die, she attacks by the bill, shredding it the way a velociraptor might a protoceratops’ juicy backstrap.

When she’s done with a hat, the bill looks like the wearer narrowly avoided a tragic wood chipper accident.

It’s not Jade’s fault, of course. Young dogs need space and exercise and get bored couch surfing. But we’re in a tough way right now. Our favorite place to run along the river is especially tick infested. The dogs are on flea/tick meds, but that doesn’t stop the evil arachnids from hitching a ride back to the house.

Hopefully, we’ll get a hard frost soon, sending those blood-sucking devils back to Hades, or wherever it is they overwinter.

We tried the dog park, which was good only because it’s fenced and Jade’s at the age she either needs somewhere fenced, or somewhere so big it doesn’t matter. Unfortunately, there’s a mean respiratory infection going around the park and both dogs picked it up.

They were tired and listless for a spell while the antibiotics did their work, but my dogs are ready to roll again. I need a new exercise plan.

One option might be heading out on the plains for sharptail and Huns. Even better, maybe a return visit to the chukar grounds. All are open this time of year and the work would be good for the pup, but my older dog Doll can’t hunt in the heat anymore.

Just because she can’t go doesn’t mean she’s going to accept Jade and I hunting without her. I can imagine Doll’s disappointment, though fortunately, I don’t have to face it, yet.

This puppy chaos has come as a shock. My big dog aged out of her destructive puppy phase years ago. She’s so restrained I could leave my shoes out in the living room near the door, with complete faith they’d be intact when I needed them.

I keep my shoes closeted now. If I leave the door open, the puppy tries sneaking sneakers back out to the living room, where thankfully, she’s more easily caught. It’s lighter on my footwear bud-get that she doesn’t chew shoes in situ.

Doll did her share of chewing when she was young. I have an elk leather wallet I’ve used for decades. It’s developed a nice patina and molded precisely to the shape of my backside, but otherwise seems no worse for wear. Then I open it and see the bite marks and tattered hide from the morning she nosed it off the kitchen table and carried it to the backyard to kill.

After a frantic moment trying to remember where I’d left my wallet this time, I noticed the breadcrumb trail of licenses and credit cards leading out the doggy door. The breadcrumbs continued across the lawn to where Doll sat, wallet in mouth, head low and turned away, avoiding eye contact.

She knew it wasn’t hers to do in, but just couldn’t help herself.

Rob Breeding writes and blogs at www.mthookandbullet.com.